Endoscope vs. Borescope

When you’re in need of a tight-knit light source, a simple skinny flashlight just won’t do.

You’ll need something equipped to be held at varying angles to see in small, sometimes unreachable, inaccessible areas when plumbing. 

This is where the use of a professional endoscope or borescope can come in handy

Both are in high demand due to their meandering abilities and easy visual detection; it’s imperative to have an endoscope or borescope to get the most effective and efficient feedback when on a plumbing job.

What they are

These products are skinny light sources that are shaped similar to knitted coil, attached to a digital padded screen.

They are moveable and adjustable, allowing for the easiest way to see in cracks and dark crevasses while working on a specific project. And from once being a thin cable with a light at the end in the past, they are now more upgraded, easy to use, and readily available to the general public.

However, you will likely need only one of these scopes to complete the task you have at hand, so here we are going to review the differences between endoscopes and borescope.

This way, when you’re looking for the best scope for your needs, you’ll have a reference to help in deciding what constitutes a good scope.

What exactly differs?

Often, people think that endoscopes and borescopes are the same product, and that simply is not true. Both scopes are manufactured to complete a similar purpose while in use.

So, although the actual differences between an endoscope and borescope are rather minute, they are there and they make a huge difference in manageability and efficiency. 

Visual Comparison

The main differences to look for in distinguishing the two are as follows:

  • Outer diameter—The scope of choice will need to fit in the smallest hole required of it. This can include, but is not limited to, 4.2mm at the thickest or 2.4mm at the smallest. Endoscopes often will be skinnier to allow for an easy glide and the need for wiggle room. Whereas, borescopes can be found in more varying diameter sizes to correspond with the project at hand
  • Flexibility—Both scopes come available in more flexible or more rigid forms; however, keep in mind that endoscopes are allowed more free range because “wiggle room” is necessary
  • Magnification—Finding the greatest magnification is quite easy when searching for the right endoscope, as they are more enhanced for medical accuracy. Greater magnification can be found in borescopes as well, but they tend to come at higher prices because magnification is not its prime purpose
  • Field of view—This field involves the dimming and enhancing of the light source at the tip of each scope. This can be adjusted according to the scope’s abilities at the time of purchase. Endoscopes tend to have dimmer lights to accommodate the internal structures of the human body
  • Direction of viewEndoscopes often have a built-in direction of view that can be adjusted through an implanted camera, which can allow a 90° view on a computer monitor. Compared to borescopes, this is rather limited as borescopes can often be found to reach up to 120° direction toggling
  • Length—This is more of a buyer’s choice, and you can find both scope types in most of the same sizes. However, normally endoscopes are needed in smaller lengths, so it is a bit harder to scavenge out smaller models than it is for a borescope, which are readily available in all sizes
  • Eyepiece and digital viewing — Most endoscopes come with a digital viewing pad to see what is needed during the plumbing process. Borescopes also have upgraded to this feature as well, but normally have lower grade cameras attached to their end lights
  • Eyepiece—This is no longer the standard, but older versions of these scopes have manual eyepieces. The endoscope’s eyepiece is more for examining purposes and normally has a soft cushion for long resting while examining. Borescopes tend to not have this feature, and have much simpler eyepiece designs

When do you use an endoscope vs a borescope?

Endoscopes are used specifically for the careful investigation of piping and draining systems. Being a skinnier threaded cable, the endoscope is able to maneuver through pipe ways by sliding the tubing easily through, up, and down.

Here are the main uses for this type of scope:

  • Navigating through deep pipe ways
  • To hold a view while inserting materials to fix deep-set plumbing cracks
  • Snaking long cording through geometrically perpendicular systems

Borescopes are used in more casual plumbing practices and the maintenance of larger household or mechanical objects.

 This make them ideal for projects and easier to find on the marketplace. They are normally a lot easier to customize and handle after purchase.

The following include the normal times a borescope will be used:

  • Seeing inside tight spaces (i.e., in between and under the hood)
  • Inspecting items from the inside rather than opening or cutting into them to view an issue
  • Visual inspection of large fixtures (i.e., in between heavy piping systems)
  • Mapping out the inside of a space before adjusting or inserting other products inside it

How to find the best scope

Both endoscopes and borescopes can be hard to find on the regular market, like local stores and hobby shops. But they can easily be found in one of two places.

The first of these is at a department warehouse. You can use a search engine in relation to your area zip code. This way, you will be able to see where the closest manufacture is located near you, and you can physically go pick one up without having to pay shipping and handling fees.

The other option is to purchase from one of the online stores; endoscopes can be found at online plumbing retailers, while borescopes are often sold at hardware and care maintenance stores.

 But, both can also be found for a cheaper price at popular buying sites like Amazon.

Our conclusion

Overall, whichever scope, endoscope or borescope, fits your needs and works well for you, it should make your plumbing upkeep much easier to manage.

We hope that this article has helped you determine which scope will work best for your project or practice, and that the differences you’ve learned can help you in later using your product.

One Comment

  1. I like that you pointed out that borescopes are great for inspecting items from the inside rather than opening a way to them. Borescopes are also used to inspect engines of large vehicles. Even aircrafts are often inspected with aviation borescopes.

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